February 9, 2011

Waze Launches Voice Alerts

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Waze, the popular social navigation App has launched a new feature that allows you to leave voice alerts for other drivers when you see a road hazard or other issue. The capability can supplement the feature where you report on a road issue, which allows you to leave a push pin in the map using either canned messages or a custom one about any number of issues. Of course you can see the issue on the map, but with the Waze Groups feature, you can see reports from others who might commute in the same area or on the same roadways.

Waze is available for Free on Android, iPhone and Blackberry (Beta) in the App store - current users will need to update their Apps.

More at Waze

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 2, 2011

Waze in MIT's Technology Review

Waze got written up in Technology Review revealing a few more details about the crowd sourced social navigation app. As you drive and as you add map corrections or notices about a speed trap, you earn points. Other than bragging rights, did you know that those point matter in other ways?

According to Techology Review, "We use it as a confidence score for the contributions that user makes," says VP DiAnn Eisnor. A report of a traffic jam from a low-ranked user is less likely to change the route suggested by Waze than one from a high-ranked user, for example.

The article also ponts to Waze's potential for earning money and advertising, as they have run promotions in the past where you can use WAZE as a game layer and collect points towards a specific prize (sponsored or not). Remember driving to "vote" on your phone platform? Think about that only it's maybe branded icons where people get entered for a giveaway.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 11, 2011

Garmin StreetPilot iPhone App Update - Upgrade Now! Ver 6.5.3

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Wow, that was the fastest App upgrade I have ever seen; Garmin released a new version of their StreetPilot App for the iPhone addressing two large concerns that I surfaced in my review of the StreetPilot App and numerous other consumers voiced as feedback for the App.

The Voice is now clearer and a lot less garbled when giving directions on my iPhone 4; seems like a quick adjustment and things are a lot better.

The Map Downloads are to be faster too, and a lot less blotchy. I panned the map tonight looking at the area around Boston and noticed that Garmin now downloads maps more quickly, and in bigger blocks. See the images below; on the left is the original Version launched last week with smaller map segments, and what can't be shown here is the overall slowness of the download. On the right, the map for the same Target store is downloaded much more quickly, but in larger map block sizes.

Garmin claims that the "Map Storage [is] increased - Browse even more maps offline you've previously downloaded" on the App store indicating to me that there were some adjustments made to help remedy the situation. The App size is now 8.4MB (still tiny), versus <8MB for the last version.

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Finally, Garmin also added a volume control to the iPod playback capability. Now the iPod volume controls are offered through the Navigation menu that comes up through the "Page Curl" on the map page. Nice addition.

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Available in the iTunes Store and is still $39.
Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 7, 2011

Review: Garmin StreetPilot App First Impressions

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UPDATE: New Version available of the Garmin StreetPilot App to fix issues with Garbled Voice and slow map downloads - read more!

Garmin announced their StreetPilot App for the iPhone this week at CES, and I wanted to take the opportunity to gather some first impressions of their initial App effort.

It's well known that they are late to the iPhone game given their drive into the Nuvifone strategy that didn't receive the market welcome that they had originally thought it would. Given that failed attempt, it was prudent to get a hold in the marketplace in Smartphones as they continue to be the go-to personal device. I read this morning that Smart Phones are expected to surpass computers in overall numbers in the US within a year or two; simply amazing. With that portable and very personal computing power, people are going to rely on and want to rely on that device for more and more integrated capabilities. It is imperative to play in this area.

Garmin StreetPilot already a Contender

Overall, the Garmin StreetPilot App is a reasonable choice, with some strengths and a few weaknesses that while good enough, represent areas of vulnerability for Garmin. They will need to jump on these to 1) Keep any momentum coming out of their CES launch announcement and 2) Build a superior product. For years, Garmin has had an easy to use interface that continues to grow and evolve; it makes its way to the StreetPilot App. Navigation continues to be solid, with some features that make the StreetPilot App more full-featured than other navigation Apps when they were launched well over a year ago. It of course melds well with the iPhone capabilities - navigating from portrait and landscape modes and navigating to contacts from within the App. So while the weaknesses don't make it superior in the market the $39 price point and the expectation for improvements make it a contender in the App world.

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (5) | social bookmarking

January 6, 2011

SPOT Teams with Android Smartphones - Good Combo to Save your Life?


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SPOT has announced that they are now compatible with the Android platform and can offer you a quick way to SMS the world from beyond the cell towers in most far flung corners of the earth. The App allows you to use your smartphone to send a text message out to the world via satellite communications, leaving behind the cell phone towers and almost eliminating the issue of not being in touch. I say almost, because while SPOT covers everywhere in the world I would need to go, they don't fully cover the globe.

SPOT Connect will retail for $169.99 MSRP plus a required annual subscription service starting at $99.99 per year and is scheduled to begin shipping this January to retail locations and online sites specializing in GPS, outdoor recreation and personal electronics.1 For more information on SPOT Connect and other SPOT products and location-based satellite service offerings like SPOT Assist Roadside and BoatUS Towing Services, visit www.findmespot.com

For this cool innovation, SPOT won an Innovation award at CES this year. Recall that you can also access this cool text your friends from (nearly) anywhere capability with the DeLorme PN-60W with SPOT handheld GPS also.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Pioneer SmartCradle for the iPhone - GPS and Gyroscope

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Pioneer has announced a new SmartCradle for the iPhone that will help turbocharge your GPS based App on the iPhone. The SmartCradle includes a GPS chip for higher accuracy, and a gyroscope and accelerometer for helping determine your location when the GPS read is failing in those urban canyons. The cradle will of course charge the iPhone while in the dock, because anyone who has used the GPS on an iPhone knows it sucks battery power like a leach.

To add to the coolness, the cradle will help boost the volume with an automatic sound leveling feature - more cabin noise, higher volume on the turn by turn directions.

No word yet on price or launch timing......

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 4, 2011

Garmin Launches iPhone App - StreetPilot

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Garmin has announced the new StreeetPilot App for Android and iPhone today. While a latecomer to the App Party, Garmin is here to fight, with a $39 list price in the iPhone App store, and a list of features that took others several upgrades to achieve.

In their recent earnings announcement (November 3, 2010) when they told of the Nuvifone discontinuation, they mentioned that those developers would be moving into smartphone App development. It appears that they were already working hard on these Apps at the time, and that they are in for the long fight with upgrades and new features coming.

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At a high level, the Garmin StreetPilot App has Text to Speech (says Street Names), Lane Assist, iPod controls inside the App, Google Local Search, Local Weather and Traffic Alerts. The traffic appears to be provided by NAVTEQ and their Nokia owners, which is configured to alert you on traffic around you or on your Route. You are also able to set the StreetPilot App for pedestrian use which changes how it navigates you - which includes walking you through pedestrian only areas and up One Way streets the "wrong" way.

Finally, in an interesting move, the Maps are not resident on your smartphone, but are streamed to the phone over the air. This has stirred up loads of debate relating to the data download demands for those on a limited data plan and folks who may venture out of coverage areas where this could pose an issue. On the plus side, I was able to download the <8MB App over the air and start cruising with it in about a minute. Also, upgrades won't come in the form of a 1+GB file that takes 30+ minutes to load onto the phone every time a new feature shows up.

First Impressions - Garmin StreetPilot App

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I have used the App on my iPhone 4 for running around town today and like the interface - native Garmin layout. The App did crash once, but when I restarted it, it remembered where I was navigating to. The StreetPilot App has a nice little Page Curl at the bottom of the map that offers you easy access to several important functions while navigating: Route Overview, Directions. Walking Mode, Stop Navigating and Cancel (Return to the Map Screen).

The lone text to speech voice is OK, but a little quick in its pronunciation rendering a few road names a little less distinguishable than normal. I like the ability to navigate to a contact's address - the format of the data entry screen is a little odd with the data parsed out into different fields: Number, Street, City, etc, versus the Google web standard of all in one blank.

I'll dive deeper into the App in the coming days.

Garmin StreetPilot App is $39 - Available now.

The full press release is below......

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

December 20, 2010

TomTom App for iPhone - Version 1.6 Updated Maps Plus MapShare

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The new TomTom App update hit the iTunes store today that includes two key items in the release. The first is an updated map set for the iPhone App - a nice thing to have every now and then because as TomTom claims, 15% of roads change every year. The second big item is the addition of MapShare to the iPhone App.

MapShare is the TomTom feature that they debuted back in July of 2007 when it was included on the TomTom GO 720, which allowed users to make numerous map changes on their device and also share those changes with the community of other MapShare users. How successful is it? Well about a year and a half later, TomTom had a user base of over 5 million users on MapShare, learning and editing maps from the crowd. While this isn't responsible for all map changes, it allows TeleAtlas and TomTom to focus their resources where the need higher level, more intense understanding of the road attributes, while still maintaining good up to date coverage of all roadways.

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Notification on the iPhone App when there are Map Updates available for you.

TomTom has had a steady stream of updates coming since the launch of their iPhone App. You can see my Original Review of the TomTom App Version 1.2 update. TomTom added Traffic support with version 1.3, and then offered iPhone 4 compatibility (multi-tasking and background operation) to version 1.5.
Download the TomTom App now in the iTunes store. There are several varieties with different base maps; US only ($39), US+Canada ($49), US & Mexico ($49) and Western Europe ($75). All are at different price points, and are on sale for the Christmas holiday.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 16, 2010

Navigon: Mobile App Upgrades (iPad Support) and New Products in 2011

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Navigon has several announcements today about their mobile products that sound like they are continuing to innovate, reap the success of their past work and are listening to their consumers who are sometimes looking for simple functioning applications or more sophisticated all-in-one apps.

New Navigon Version 1.7

The updates today include: universal iPad integration, Zagat Survey, Active Lane Assistant, Map Reporter, enhanced Retina display support, and new user notifications. Yes, you can use the Navigon version 1.7 on your iPad with GPS. Navigon has added support to send in map edits to the user community in this version, something that is a smart move given the momentum of crowd sourced maps and open mapping projects.

Navigonhelp2park.jpgThe regional versions are effective today with the full North America and US versions coming shortly through the Apple approval process.

Don't forget that Navigon uses Inrix traffic data feeds for their paid traffic subscription inside their navigation application. The inrix data feeds have excellent coverage down to secondary roads in dozens of metro areas.

New Apps in the New Year

The New Year will bring new Free Apps from Navigon that specialize in a single functionality. The current example is a parking helper app called help2park that will help you find suitable parking nearby; an app that may have some value in larger cities. The search results can be displayed in a map or a list format.

Full Press Release is Below.....

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 14, 2010

MapMyRide Upgrade - Better Stats Pages

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MapMyRide continues to iterate their application with a recent update to the iPhone App to bring a more detailed and flexible stats screen to your daily routine. This work was born out of the Fisica Key inclusion and rash of new capabilities that ANT+ integration can bring.

Not only can you get the feedback from the GPS (speed, distance calculations, etc), but also data feeds for Heart Rate Monitors, Cadence meters, power meters, and more. All very cool - see my Review of the Fisica Sensor Key and its use with MapMyRide.

MapMyRideEditFields.jpgChanging the fields is as easy as tapping the field and choosing from the available data feeds.

The "GPS" related fields are: Speed, Pace, Time, Distance, and Time/Distance as a split field.

The Sensor Fields currently available are: Heart Rate, Bike Speed/Cadence, Bike Speed, Cadence, Bike Power, and Stride Sensor.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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